Supermarket reports strong set of third-quarter figures, with outlook ahead of forecasts

Sainsbury’s has reported a strong set of Christmas trading figures, and predicted better-than-expected results over the coming months despite the tough consumer environment.

In its third-quarter trading statement, the retailer said it had achieved a record Christmas, with grocery sales up 5.6% in the 16 weeks to 7 January and 7.1% in the six weeks to 7 January.

Year-on-year sales growth was up 12.5% in the quarter and 14.7% over Christmas. Grocery sales in the quarter were also 12.5% ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

Sainsbury’s noted that volume performance was ahead of the market for the third consecutive year, driven by investment in value, innovation, service and availability.

Chief executive Simon Roberts said that while the company remained cautious on the consumer backdrop, underlying pre-tax profit for the full year is now at the upper end of the guidance range of £630-690m, with retail free cashflow of around £600m, ahead of the £500m anticipated.

“We prioritised keeping our prices low and giving our customers great value at Christmas,” explained Roberts. ”We went bold on the traditional fresh turkey roast dinner with all the trimmings and dessert, which was the best value in the market at under £4 per head.

”Sales were also boosted by the World Cup as people celebrated more at home. Our determined focus on delivering the best value alongside new and exciting festive food plus outstanding customer service and availability meant we delivered record sales, and market outperformance at both Sainsbury’s and Argos.

“We understand money will be exceptionally tight this year, particularly as many people wait for Christmas bills to land. We are working together with our suppliers to battle cost inflation and we’re keeping prices low again this year with our biggest value campaign yet in January, price matching Aldi on around 300 of our most popular products.”